10 Hacks to Get Rid of Ear Pain During Airplane Flight

Say goodbye to ear pain on airplane flights with these effective techniques. Discover how to alleviate discomfort and enjoy a smooth journey.

5 mins read
how to get rid of airplane ear

Flying can be an exciting experience, but the discomfort of ear pain during takeoff and landing can put a damper on your travel excitement. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or an occasional traveler, the changes in air pressure inside the aircraft can lead to ear pain and discomfort. However, fear not! We will explore some effective and practical techniques to help you get rid of ear pain and make your airplane journey in the sky more enjoyable. So fasten your seatbelt and get ready to discover the secrets to flying without ear pain!

Understand the Cause of Airplane Ear

So, picture this: You’re sitting on an airplane, ready for takeoff, and suddenly, you feel a sharp pain in your ears. Ouch! But why does this happen to some people and not others?

Well, it all comes down to our delicate ears and how they handle the rapid changes in air pressure during flight. You see, inside our ears, we have these little passageways called Eustachian tubes. These tubes connect the middle ear to the back of our throat and are responsible for equalizing the pressure on both sides of our eardrums.

Now, for those lucky folks who don’t experience ear pain, their Eustachian tubes are working like smooth operators. As the plane climbs or descends, these tubes open up just enough to let the air flow in and out, ensuring the pressure in the middle ear stays in harmony with the outside world. No pain, no fuss—just smooth sailing (or flying, in this case).

But for some of us, our Eustachian tubes may not be as cooperative. They can get a little stubborn, maybe partially blocked or slow to open up. As a result, when the pressure inside the plane changes, our ears feel the brunt of it. That’s when the discomfort kicks in, accompanied by that pesky ear pain we’d rather do without.


Other factors can also come into play. If you’ve got a stuffy nose from a cold or sinus congestion, your Eustachian tubes may already be struggling, making it even harder for them to keep up with the pressure changes. And let’s not forget about those with narrower Eustachian tubes or those adorable little ones whose ears are still developing—they tend to be more susceptible to ear pain during flights.

1. Chew a Gum and Yawning

One of the simplest and most effective ways to get rid of ear pain is to swallow or yawn frequently during airplane takeoff and landing. These actions help equalize the pressure inside and outside your ears.

Chew a piece of gum, suck on a candy, or take sips of water to encourage swallowing. If you can’t yawn naturally, you can simulate the motion by opening your mouth wide. For children, offering a pacifier or a bottle during these moments can also help.

2. Humming

Humming can be a helpful technique to get rid of ear pain during a airplane flight. When you hum, the muscles in your throat and nasal passages are engaged, which can help to open the Eustachian tubes and equalize the pressure in your ears. By doing so, you may experience a reduction in discomfort and pain.

To use humming as a technique, simply create a humming sound by exhaling through your nose while keeping your mouth closed. You can try humming a favorite tune or simply produce a humming sound without any specific melody.


Humming can be particularly helpful during descent when the cabin pressure increases, as it encourages the opening of the Eustachian tubes. Additionally, humming can also serve as a distraction, taking your focus away from the discomfort and making the experience more bearable.

3. Opt for a Window Seat

Choosing a window seat can provide a slight advantage in managing ear pain. By resting your head against the window, you can create a small amount of pressure against your ear, which can help alleviate discomfort during pressure changes.

Additionally, looking out the window and focusing on the horizon can help distract your mind and reduce anxiety, further minimizing the impact of ear pain.

4. The Valsalva Maneuver Technique

Another technique to equalize the pressure in your ears is the Valsalva maneuver. Pinch your nostrils shut, close your mouth, and gently blow air through your nose.

This action creates pressure in the middle ear, which can help to open the Eustachian tubes and relieve discomfort. Be cautious not to blow too hard or forcefully, as this can cause damage to your ears.


5. Use Ear Plugs

Wearing earplugs during takeoff and landing can be beneficial in reducing the discomfort caused by the changes in air pressure. Traditional earplugs help to muffle the noise and create a barrier to the outside pressure.

Additionally, pressure-regulating earplugs specifically designed for flying can be a great investment. These earplugs are equipped with filters that regulate the air pressure, allowing for a gradual equalization and minimizing the impact of rapid pressure changes.

6. Drink Water to Relieve Ear Pain During Flight

Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the flight can aid in reducing ear pain. When you are adequately hydrated, the mucus membranes in your nose and throat stay moist, which can facilitate better equalization of pressure.

Drink plenty of water before and during the flight, and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration.

7. Jaw Exercises

Performing simple jaw exercises during the flight can help in relieving ear pressure and pain. Open your mouth as wide as you can and then slowly close it. Repeat this exercise a few times.


You can also try moving your jaw from side to side or gently massaging the muscles around your jaw joint. These exercises help to activate the muscles responsible for opening the Eustachian tubes, promoting better equalization of pressure.

8. Stay Awake and Avoid Sleep during Descent

During the descent, it’s recommended to stay awake and avoid falling asleep. When you sleep, you may not swallow as frequently, which can hinder the equalization process.

Remaining awake allows you to be more conscious of your swallowing and yawning, ensuring better regulation of pressure in your ears.

9. Stay Relaxed and Practice Deep Breathing

Stress and tension can exacerbate ear pain, so it’s important to stay relaxed during your flight. Practice deep breathing exercises to calm your body and mind. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Deep breathing can help relax the muscles around your ears and promote better equalization of pressure.

10. Nasal Decongestants or Spray

If you have a cold, allergies, or sinus congestion, your Eustachian tubes may already be partially blocked, making it harder to equalize the pressure. In such cases, using a nasal decongestant or spray before your flight can help reduce congestion and alleviate ear pain.


However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist before using any medications, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or take other medications.

Bottom Line

Experiencing ear pain during flights is a common issue caused by the rapid changes in air pressure. While some lucky individuals sail through their journeys without a hint of discomfort, others may find themselves grappling with the unpleasant sensation in their ears. Understanding the reasons behind this disparity can help us tackle the issue more effectively.

Ultimately, armed with knowledge and a toolbox of strategies, you can approach your next airplane flight with confidence, knowing how to get rid of ear pain effectively. Remember, if the discomfort persists or becomes severe, it’s wise to seek professional medical advice to rule out any underlying conditions.

So, fear not the ear pain on your next adventure in the skies. Take control, implement these techniques, and soar towards a more comfortable and enjoyable flying experience. Bon voyage!